Resort Councilmen Question Citizen Group’s Goals, Intentions

OCEAN CITY – A spokesperson for a local citizens group came under fire this week amid charges the non-profit organization is showing favoritism toward certain candidates in this year’s elections.

At the conclusion of this week’s Mayor and City Council, Councilman Joe Hall called Joe Groves, spokesperson for Citizens For Ocean City, to the front of the room to “answer some questions.”

Citizens For Ocean City was formed after several actions by the new council majority, consisting of Brent Ashley, Jim Hall, Joe Hall and Margaret Pillas. The group’s membership soared when the four council members voted to remove City Manager Dennis Dare from office last September.

According to Citizens For Ocean City’s Facebook page, the group’s mission is to educate the citizens to make good choices. The group’s page is designed to educate voters to make good decisions though encouraging a positive forum to share honest ideas about the issues faced in changing economic times and to support the council to make wise decisions and promote neighborly communication and discourse.

At Monday’s meeting, Joe Hall questioned Groves on the organization’s right to collect donations. Groves responded that the organization is a 501c4, which is a non-profit that is allowed the right to become political if it chooses.

“For the people that have filed to run for office, at this time it is a total of seven, and at this time as far as I know you have only hosted donuts and coffee and encouragement for one candidate, and I want to know why the previous candidates that have filed for the council race weren’t given the same courtesy,” Joe Hall said.

Joe Hall was referring to Monday morning when the Citizens For Ocean City set up outside of City Hall and provided coffee and donuts to celebrate OC Citizens Appreciation Day.

The celebration occurred on the morning that former City Manager Dennis Dare filed for office and held a press conference at the entrance of City Hall to announce his candidacy.

Once Groves explained the “coincidence”, Joe Hall went on to accuse Groves of not providing equal time to all candidates.

Council members Joe Hall and Jim Hall are up for re-election but have not filed, and Doug Cymek and Mary Knight have already. Other candidates include Robert Baker, Sean Rox, Frank Adkins and Joe Mitrecic.

“I am not required, sir, to give equal time, remember that,” Groves said. “Under no law am I required to give you equal time or anyone else, nor shall I, so I will be upfront right now.”

Councilman Brent Ashley pointed out that the Citizens For Ocean City website states it “promotes neighborly communications and discourse” but a cartoon caricature of Joe Hall in a Mad Hatter outfit has been posted on the site and accused Groves of posting it.

 “I am not going to censor people Brent, just like I don’t censor you when plenty of times I wish I could but I don’t,” Groves said.

Ashley continued to accuse Groves of allowing posts that are in “bad taste” on the site, in which Groves responded he is not the administrator of the site and that he has someone else handle that duty.

“Let’s assumes that is true,” Ashley said. “Now just in good taste if you are promoting neighborly communications why would you allow something like that on your website, or on your Facebook page? To me that is bad taste. Being an elected official, you don’t think that is disrespectful?”

An audience member interjected Joe Hall’s advertisements and Facebook posts for a new mayor was equally disrespectful to a sitting elected official. Several back-and-forth comments continued until Council President Jim Hall insisted the conversation end.

15 comments on “Resort Councilmen Question Citizen Group’s Goals, Intentions

  1. A lot of people haven’t had a raise in 5 years. As a matter of fact quite a few people in the private sector have voluntarily cut back on their own hours and wages so their fellow employees don’t get laid off. So I can’t say I really feel sorry for these employees Maggie. They are not the only ones who are suffering and having to cut back on spending.

  2. Groves is nothing but a Dare, Meehan, Mitrecic pant. Go ahead folks, vote this smoke and mirrors and watch your tax dollars double again. Simply put, look at the budget 10 years ago, and look now!

  3. Freetalker – so your in favor of the Obama theory of redistribution of wealth. Great! Just because a lot of people haven’t had a raise doesn’t mean that others should have to suffer right along with them. I’m in pain so others should have to be in pain with me. Your argument is very flawed.

    I imagine that it’s very hard for the city employees to watch the County employees and now Salisbury employees get raises and our council cry poor when the town consistantly is packed with all kinds of special events. The current majority expects more out of the employees with less pay. The city employees have done an excellent job keeping this town running.

  4. I’m not in favor redistribution of wealth at all Voter, nor am I in favor of across the board raises. I’m just someone who sat back and watched a windfall of revenue going out quicker than it was coming in. Budgets skyrocketed, departments became top heavy and salaries increased. Everyone knew real estate prices were overinflated.
    The city employees would be better served to not worry about what is going on elsewhere and to concentrate on the reason why they haven’t gotten raises and that’s because they were let down by out of control spending habits.
    A very wise man once said “The arms business is based on human folly and folly has yet to be measured or it’s depths plumbed.” Take out “arms business” and replace it with “a resort town’s economy.”
    I’m not saying the employees do not deserve a raise but I am saying things in this country are not stable enough at this point in time and OC must not be spending money indiscriminately.

  5. Hard to give raises when they were overpaid to begin with. And for what its worth, they received average $1,500 this year. A “kindness day, and $1000″ Oh, that was just to calm them down NO, but thats the entitlement minded employees and unions way of saying “it’s never enough”

  6. I would be hard pressed to vote for any candidate these people endorse. This is the group that intimated people who would have like to have spoken at council meetings by their booing of speakers who did not conform to their agenda.
    Any candidate who allows themsevles to be endorsed by this group of rude people is condoning intimindating behaviour that encourages discourse.

  7. If Joe Groves was so concerned, why doesn’t he run for council? He came on the scene when Dare was Fired. Now he says “it’s the way it was done”. Joe, is there a good way to fire someone? Didnt take Groves long to expect special treatment, ask city hall? This isn’t his home, when the taxes spike again, it’s fools like him to thank, along with an ex city manager and his previous 180k salary.

  8. I think it’s great that there is a citizen’s group moving to increase voter partisipation in the local elections. It’s also interesting that there two council members seem to be nervous that someone is actually trying to get all the citizens to take a close look at what they have been doing.. Maybe this is reflective of the record they have amassed over the last two years. I also find the two comments posted interesting and very telling..

  9. Folks, the city employees have not had a raise in 5 years. the Hall boys and margaret need to go. Ashely is just out-there!WE NEED TO MOVE IN A NEW DIRECTION. AND WE NEED TO ASK WHO’S IN YOUR WALLET???

  10. Do you really think that the $20 REFUND that the “4″ pushed through was for the citizens? NO – it was pushed through for the Harrisons – so they could collect HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of dollars… our $20 is a complete JOKE. I can’t wait to vote them out of office!

  11. This council is dysfunctional and if they continue to put their special interests above those of the masses they were elected to represent it will remain so no mater who sits in those chairs.

  12. Joe Groves has been drinking the kool aid since Dennis was fired. Who the heck is he? Dennis was part of the clan that was going to send us into employee disaster. FACT, just look at the raises he approved, stop the small talk…… look at the facts!

  13. Joe Hall needs to understand that organizing citizen support is far more effective than driving around in a pick up truck with lettering saying you’re a conservative and a swell guy. He needs to prove it and he has not.

  14. WOW……is Groves that intimidating to Joe and Brent? If these council members supported the best interests of the Town they wouldn’t be so worried come election time. It’s obvious the Fatal Four are scared and rightfully so. When your time is up you will not be reelected. Enjoy the time you have left because it won’t last!

  15. Maybe we could have an organization called “Citizens For Ocean City against Citizens For Ocean City” where we can put up various cartoons.

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